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Master Tully: Cicero in Tudor England.

Howard Jones. Master Tully: Cicero in Tudor England.

(Bibliotheca Humanistica & Reformatorica, 58.) Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1998. viii + 316 pp. Ngl 120. ISBN: 90-6004-443-6.

If copia of treatment qualifies one as a Ciceronian, Jones is a worthy servant of his subject. His ultimate journey through multiple aspects of Cicero's presence in Tudor England starts unhurriedly in antiquity, ambles through the Middle Ages (including some English citations), proceeds to Italy, and there introduces us to English visitors who will bring the new learning -- Cicero included -- across the Channel. By now we are on page 82. Jones has limned his narrow-sounding topic on a broad canvas. The rewards include explorations of evolving attitudes toward classical literature, Tudor pedagogical practice, the history of universities in the sixteenth century, the insular alongside the continental book trade, and the reasons for the demise of not only Cicero's but the Latin language's dominance at the dawn of the seventeenth century. Though there are elements of intellectual history, this book will be remembered more for the detailed ways it traces the impact of Cicero on Tudor society generally.

The first chapter, generally adapted for the nonspecialist, surveys Cicero's life. In the second, Jones undertakes to identify "some of the broad philosophical issues which Cicero felt it important to examine" (20), especially his suspicion of extreme dogmatism. Jones's compendium of Cicero's own philosophical arguments will be of use to the classicist as well as the Renaissance scholar. Curiously absent, however, is any survey of Cicero's rhetorical works, which would have borne directly on the discussion of Tudor England.

Chapter 3, "Cicero Old and Cicero New," sketches Cicero's presence in the Middle Ages, drawing on statistics gathered by L. D. Reynolds for incidence of manuscripts. Florilegia brought the orator's writings to a wider and more stable later medieval audience. The De inventione, alongside the Rhetorica ad Herennium (caution: this title is consistently misspelled) believed to be Cicero's, established him as the prince of eloquence. Jones then follows the transition from the medieval utilitarian focus on Cicero's writings to Renaissance curiosity about Cicero the whole man, the "prototype of the civic-humanist" (65).

Englishmen drawing from Italian cultural wellsprings -- as well as Italians crossing the Channel -- finally appear in chapter 4, "Out of Italy." Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, brother of Henry V; two Oxford chancellors, Thomas Chaundler and George Neville; Thomas Linacre the physician, who was Thomas More's Greek teacher; and John Colet are among those discussed. These men (yes, all are male) did not displace older attitudes toward learning in England, but they established a climate that by 1500 was hospitable to humanism. In this chapter Jones surveys English exposure to classical learning broadly, with Cicero playing a small role as yet.

Chapter 5, "Cicero Britannicus," finally shows a simultaneous focus on England and Cicero. Its topic is Latin texts and English translations of Cicero available in Tudor England. The demands of the market, as well as the volume of continental publications of classical authors, worked against English press production of Latin texts and in favor of vernacular. Continental printers supplied most of the Latin texts. Indeed, the editio princeps of the Pro Milone (1483) is the lone incunable Ciceronian Latin edition from England. Sixteenth-century England produced 67 editions of Cicero in Latin or translation (57 of them with Latin text), somewhat over 2 percent of the international total, a figure Jones attributes more to the state of printing in general than to any Ciceronian unpopularity in England (129). Only seven of the 67 came in the first half of the century. Jones examines critically several translations (e.g. Robert Whyttington's, and Nicholas Grimaldi's more accurate, De officiis; Thomas Newton's "wordy " De senectute), acknowledging problems created by the lack of suitable grammars to assist the writers. John Dolman, answering complaints that translation amounts to "profaning of the secretes of philosophy," identifies his audience: neither the university graduate nor the permanently illiterate, but those "who possess a desire to extend the range of their knowledge" and whose obstacle is not an absence of quick wit but simply ignorance of Greek and Latin (149). This is an audience that modern teachers of undergraduate "classics in translation" courses will readily recognize.

Chapter 6, "Tudor Schoolrooms," again employs the Ciceronian topic as an excuse to range widely across the background. Jones's concise, readable description of the education offered in the grammar schools and then the "higher forms," where rhetoric and logic were pursued, will serve as a nice introduction to those broader topics; Cicero comes up incidentally as necessary. Parsing, "double translation," and other Latin teaching strategies are examined. Chapter 7, "Commercial Break," looks at the "highly competitive and hazardous enterprise of English publishing (191). Cicero editions tended to be reproductions of continental publications. Securing Letters Patent for school texts, including Cicero, was one means of entering the market safely. School texts -- notably the frequent combination of De officiis. De senectute, De amicitia, Paradoxa Stoicorum, and Somnium Scipionis -- were spun off Thomas Vautrollier's 1574 Royal Patent on "Cicero's complete works as edited by Lambinus" (196). Jones discusses book pri ces and how to estimate them, conflicts between patentees and printing trade outsiders, and what it took to make the sale of Cicero titles profitable.

Chapter 8, "Some to the Studious Universities," follows Cicero into higher education at Oxford and Cambridge, where Jones cites two early-Tudor developments that promoted humanist studies: college lectures for undergraduates, such as those funded by Cardinal Wolsey, and "the establishment by the universities themselves of salaried professorships" (220, 222). The magnitude of Cicero's benefit from the humanist shift is hard to gauge; Jones studies the question through an inquiry into the contents of "institutional and private libraries" (226). Cicero appears on 70 percent of the lists for each of the universities. Jones's unsurprising conclusion is that the survey confirms Cicero's prominent place in humanist study. Historians of the book will doubtless find a wealth of engaging detail here.

The last chapter, "A Matter of Style," rehearses the history of the "Ciceronian controversy" on the nature and thoroughness of proper imitation of the great man; Italy again draws Jones irresistibly back to Petrarch, Poggio, Valla, and the familiar cast of characters in the quarrel, climaxing of course with Erasmus's Ciceronianus. Jones recounts Roger Ascham's muscular approach to "Cicero the imitator" (263); Ascham believed one should learn how Cicero imitated his models and act accordingly; that is, become acquainted with Cicero s own predecessors both Greek and Latin. Jones reviews the "conversion experience" undergone by Gabriel Harvey, a Cambridge student of the 1560s who was led by, of all people, Petrus Ramus to a deep understanding of what Ciceronianism should entail. Ramus's principle was the pursuit of Cicero's "entire make up, his wisdom, his knowledge of things and events, and, above all, the quality of his actions and beliefs" (268). Jones points out that Harvey could have found the ideal fusion of wisdom and eloquence in Cicero's own De oratore.

Ciceronianism and Latin itself suffer simultaneous eclipse at the turn of the seventeenth century. Thomas Nashe heaps satirical scorn on the aforementioned Harvey; Francis Bacon faults the hunt for words rather than matter. Jones claims a second factor in the process: that "Virtue, vice, ethical character," topics embraced by growing interest in "the complexities of moral behaviour," were "subjects best served not by the formal oration but by more intimate and individualistic forms: the essay, the epistle, the sketch" (274-75). Still, one may ask about the influence of Cicero the letter writer; what are the chances that epistolography, in which Cicero is so dominant, serves as a literary forerunner for the essay, as suggested recently by Jamile Trueba Lawand in El arte epistolar en el renacimiento espanol (Madrid, 1996, 15)? And may the personal side of Ciceronian dialogue have played a part in the development of other later "intimate" forms? Finally, Jones rightly connects the supplanting of Cicero with the rise of vernaculars to the disadvantage of Latin, symbolized by the arrival of the King James Bible.

Master Tully is not so much an engagement of controversial questions as an absorbing presentation of Cicero amid a tapestry of the events surrounding -- in a very broad sense -- his presence among the people of Tudor England, as concretized by scholars' journeys to Italy, school and university curricula, book holdings, and the dynamics of the publishing business.
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 22, 1999
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